Inga Haag (Inga Haag)

Inga Haag

World War II Resistance Figure. Called in later years “the Mata Hari of Marylebone”, she was a secretary in the German Foreign Ministry who participated in the failed plot to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944. Born Ingeborg Helene Abshagen to an upper class Prussian family, she was sent to England for school in her mid teens due to her father’s dislike for the Nazis. Inga studied at Exeter University and at the London School of Economics, then was a social worker in Wales prior to her return to Germany; there, her brains, good looks, and fluency in German, English, and French attracted the attention of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the rather enigmatic boss of the Abwehr, the Nazi spy service. Canaris’ true opinion of and loyalty to the regime he served remains a matter of conjecture; at a minimum, he opposed the killing of Jews. Calling Inga his “painted doll”, the Admiral made her his assistant and took her with him to occupied Paris where she served the German espionage machine, such as it was, while saving a number of Jewish lives by providing fake passports. (Fortunately for the Allies, many Abwehr officers were the cast-offs of other branches, more interested in the Parisian night-life than in work). An early-war meeting with Hitler at a diplomatic reception led her to an antipathy and contempt for Der Fuhrer and a mystification at his hold over people, in contrast to her feelings for Goebbels and Goering, whom, to a degree, she liked and respected. From at least 1942 when she married Werner Haag in Paris and probably much earlier, Inga was involved in the plot to end the war and save Germany by killing Hitler. The conspiracy was loose, with no one person ‘knowing everything’, as that which was not known could not be revealed under torture. Posted to Hungary and then Romania with her husband, Inga remained a darling of the social set, was aware of the unfolding of events planned for July 20, 1944, acted as a go-between for the various members, and invited two Gestapo officers to lunch with her as a ‘cover’, having first made sure to burn all of her incriminating documents. The assassination was bungled when Claus von Stauffenberg used only one of the two bombs he had, then compounded his error by setting his briefcase on the wrong side of a heavy wooden support for the conference table, resulting in only minor injuries for Hitler. Never herself suspected, Inga had to watch as others, some of them innocent, including her cousin Adam von Trott zu Solz, faced Nazi revenge; von Stauffenberg was summarily shot, Admiral Canaris was executed in Flosseburg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, and Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was forced to commit suicide by poison on October 14, 1944. Historians still debate how much the death of Hitler would have changed things at that late stage, and Inga was to complain about the lack of British support, particularly from Churchill. After the war, she lived in France where she worked as a journalist and served with NATO in Paris and Brussels up to around 1967, along the way attracting numerous high-profile male admirers, with future French President Francois Mitterand reportedly having a major crush on her. Following her husband’s death, still possessed of her glamour and charm, she settled in England where she became a sort of Grande Dame in society and diplomatic circles, holding court at London’s Harvard Club surrounded by her circle of acolytes. The German Republic finally recognized her wartime service and awarded her the Cross of the Order of Merit in 2003; the story of the failed operation is told in the 2008 Tom Cruise film “Walkyrie”. Looking back at July 20, 1944 she said: “It wasn’t a masterpiece of organisation. This was one of the plots discussed for quite some time, but it was obviously rather confused”. (bio by: Bob Hufford)

Born

  • August, 03, 1918
  • Germany

Died

  • December, 12, 2009
  • England

Cemetery

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